Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Une Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin

This Summer, ‘midst Apple natter, the Lord and Master of Sparham House was, it seems, imbued with an idea.  From the mists of the past appeared to him a Tarte Tatin as eaten once-upon-a-time at Les Augères, Vernou-en-Sologne.  The idea was to emulate said Tarte in Sparham House.

Before long, a handwritten note: 

“Tarte Tatin, Recipe from Jacqueline, as cooked at Les Augères.

“Apples:  Reine de Reinettes, Reinette du Canada, Golden Delicious.  [Bramley was suggested as a possible alternative].

“200g Butter spread in medium-sized saucepan, then same thickness of sugar.  Cut the apples in half, and stand them upright all the way round.  When cooked underneath, turn the apples.  Do this for at least an hour, continually making the caramel.  Then cover with pastry and cook for about a quarter of an hour.”

On the back, in postscript:

“The original is said to have been an accident-made-good in the kitchen of the Demoiselles Tatin, who ran an hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron.”

Autumn came, the garden, the orchards, the shed and kitchen abrim with Apples.  It was eventually, a pair of Norfolk Beefing in my hands, time to attempt replicating said Tarte.  At same time, Freddie (Cultural Concubine), who had been party to many a conversation regarding the Tarte, happened to be staying.  So it was that, proffering the Apples, I left the preparation of the Tarte to her, and returned to encourage and applaud the later stages of cooking!

La demoiselle in the kitchen at Sparham House
The Apples:  Bramley and Norfolk Beefing
turned and amalgamated with Caramel.

There is, you will notice, no recipe for Pastry included, so dear Freddie rifled through various cookbooks of the French Châteaux until she came across one that seemed suitable.

The Pastry was a mixture of 250g Flour, 25g Butter, 1 tbsp Cream… 

So it was, the Sparham Tarte Tatin was born...
Requiring only inversion onto a plate of appropriate size

In an act of the deftest gymnastics Freddie flipped the Tarte

...and it was black! Gasps of horror from the Demoiselles.  But delight otherwise, for that indeed was the colour of Jacqueline's famed Tarte Tatin.  

Obliged to eat the whole before it turned to solid Caramel, we three gorged on Tarte Tatin washing it down with only the best of French Wines suitable for a Tarte of such preparation, procrastination and stature. 

The Tarte Tatin did indeed occur in error chez Les Demoiselles de Tatin.  It is said that one of the spinster sisters forgot to put the pastry in her Tarte aux Pommes, and instead placed the pastry on top and inversed the Tarte after cooking.  The recipe was such a success it hailed the birth of today’s Tarte Tatin.


I now discover that Freddie has written beautifully on same Tarte Tatin here:  Stuck and Sticky.
...and...a note from the Master of the house:
The dark finish is authentic, see the photograph of the tarte Tatin as cooked at La Ferté Saint-Aubin, in Gilles and Bleuzen du Pontavice, La cuisine des châteaux de la Loire, and accompanying commentary.


  1. Brilliant, 'moiselle...
    Did you read mine?

    At least your pics are real. :)

    Hope the windows are coming along ok...


  2. Joy! I hadn't! I shall link it here. Your Apples are a Pic I took for Drove Orchards, and indeed, the very ones we had, so, all good! xx


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